Volume 76, Number 44 | March 28 -

April

Paul B. Goode.

< otion at Cedar Lake Dance

Gag dan ce
GAGA is essential daily practice. Garfinkel describes it as “training yourself to release movement potential.” “It’s not a physical challenge,” she explains. Instead, “it’s a combination of the passion to move, the effort and the pleasure.” It began 20 years ago when Naharin iding choreography for Batsheva dancers. After a serious back injury, he explained by e-mail, “I needed two things: to get my body to move a little bit and also to be able to give other people the keys to the way to move in my work.” In the process, “I developed an awareness that had to do with finding where in my body I'm not hurting and where in my body I have unused muscles, unused movement.” Eventually, through continued communication of such movement to his dancers, “it became a language and a method.” For professional dancers, Naharin considers GAGA “higher education.” He says, “The important idea is to make people excel in the method they already know. It’s not to abolish or cancel or change their techniques. If someone wants to be a ballerina, then GAGA can help her to be a ballerina.”

Providing GAGA instruction to non-dancers happened “almost as a joke,” says Naharin. About ten years ago, he began providing twice-a-week instruction to five non-dancers who worked for Batsheva. “Very quickly, I learned a lot about movement, movement habits… but in a new light because none of them had the ambition to be on stage. They just wanted to feel better, and to move better and to get stronger. So then GAGA became something that had nothing to do with the performing arts, just with the maintenance of your body — healing your body, finding pleasure and joy in movement. That became a very serious thing in my life — working with non-dancers. Today [in Israel] we have a venue with hundreds of non-dancers who come to take GAGA classes.” The classes at Cedar Lake, which began earlier this month, are the first he’s offered in the U.S.

There is no “script” for a GAGA session. Although Garfinkel aims to create a few movements in which effort is maximized, the impetus is on creating an experience in which one can let go. For that reason, there are no mirrors in the room. When asked if this is intentional, she nods emphatically. “It doesn’t matter what it looks like from the outside.”


GAGA classes are scheduled through April 27 at Cedar Lake, 547 W 26th Street, www.cedarlakedance.com. Separate sessions are held for dance professionals and non-dancers. Ohad Naharin will teach classes on March 29, 30, and 31. Tickets are available at www.smarttix.com.
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